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It’s crazy! Everyone seems like when someone says ‘let’s make a home-made pie crust’ there’s suddenly a pink elephant in the room and it gets real quiet, because no one wants to tackle it. I know! I’ve been there, I get it!
But, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Actually it’s simpler than you can imagine. All it takes is a little faith in yourself (Yes you can do it!) and a few tricks of the trade that anyone can master.
For the love of God…first rule….Don’t Overmix! 🙂 Using a fork, toss the wet and dry ingredients together or a very few pulses in a food processor. To get a really flaky pie crust, you want the butter to remain in big flakes, so don’t overmix. Who knew, right? We like flaky!
Second rule…Chilling! Chilling is a huge factor when making your crust. That’s why we use ice water and very chilled butter, and if you chill all the utensils, you are using to mix up your dough, that really helps too. No matter how many times you handle or mix the dough, you need to keep it well chilled. It makes the crust tender.
Pie dough also benefits from a rest period after mixing. It makes the dough easier to roll and shape.
For one single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie, you’ll need:
- 1 1/4 cups flour, measured by dipping into the flour and leveling off
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
By food processor, put all ingredients into your food processer and pulse until you get coarse little balls.
By hand, put everything into a mixing bowl, and quickly squish the chunks of butter and flour mixture together with your fingers or use a pastry cutter/blender until the mixture looks like coarse little balls. Work fast to keep the butter in large flakes and to keep the butter from melting.
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water, water should be added gradually to the dry ingredients and not all at once.
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
Once the dough has come together, form it into a disc (approximately 1/2 inch thick) and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes to overnight.
Rolling the Dough:
When rolling dough out, always start from the center and work your way out in all directions. Use a heavy rolling pin for rolling pie crust. If you roll out the dough on wax paper or parchment paper, it makes cleanup easier. To keep wax paper from slipping, sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop before arranging the paper.
Once you’ve rolled it out and put it in a pie pan or a cookie sheet, chill it again 30 minutes to overnight. Use a metal or ceramic pie plates when baking pies with butter pie crusts; glass pans are much more slippery.
Pie dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days. When ready to use, let the dough sit at room temperature approximately 20 to 30 minutes before rolling. The dough may also be frozen at this point for later use, up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator.
Hints for a no-soggy crust:
Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes before adding the filling.
You can blind-bake (see below) the crust and then moisture-proof it with one of these tips.
- You can brush it with a bit of egg white two or three minutes after it comes out of the oven.
- A good way to keep pie crust from becoming soggy is to sprinkle it with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour before adding filling.
- Another way is to brush the unbaked bottom crust of a pie with a well-beaten egg white before filling. This keeps the berries and other fruits from making the pie bottoms mushy.
Baking a frozen pie is also a help, as the crust begins to bake before the heat thaws the filling, and the entire pie bakes for longer than it would normally.
This refers to the process of baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling.
Line a pie crust with tin foil, then fill it with beans, rice or pie weights, so that it will keep its shape when baking. Blind-baking is necessary if the pie filling can not be baked as long as the crust requires, or if the filling of the pie would make the crust too soggy if added immediately.
Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the crust. This will also keep the bottom from bubbling up.
Another trick to weigh down the dough is to place empty pie pans on top of the dough in the pie plate. This is called double panning.
Blind-baking is essential if the filling is not intended to be baked, for example a chilled filling.
Blind bake @ 200° C or 400° F for 10-15 minutes.
Brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top crust to create a good seal by crimping the top and bottom crust together with your fingers.
Before placing double-crusted pies in the oven, loosely wrap aluminum foil around the pie crust edges to help the edges from browning too quickly. Remove the aluminum about 10 minutes before pies are ready to come out of the oven so the crust is properly browned.
Always make deep slits in the top crust of fruit pie. If you do not do this, the filling will be soft and soggy.
For a Golden Brown Top Crust:
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream, half & half, or milk
- 1 egg yolk, large
In a small bowl, beat cream and egg yolk together. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the top pie crust. Bake.
Cooling Baked Pies:
Cool baked pies on a wire rack set on the counter to circulate and prevent it from becoming soggy from the steam remaining it in.
When making pies at high altitudes, pie crusts are not greatly affected. A slight increase in liquid may help keep them from becoming dry. Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough.